“This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:6).”
As wildfires ravage the western U.S., inflicting costly damage across several states, those near Athens, Greece have been particularly deadly. The latest death toll attributed to the fires there has reached 88 and headlines declare that “Firefighters Join Public Outcry” over the government’s response to the blazes(1). They are protesting because firefighters had requested evacuation of the hardest hit areas but those cries went unheeded by federal officials and it has cost many lives. Particularly interesting is the notion of the people “crying out.” Clearly, their outcry is directed towards their elected officials but how effective can such an outcry be? One official has resigned but that is little consolation for those who have suffered from the fires. Biblically speaking, the concept of crying out is an interesting study as it relates to the suffering who raise their voices.
The first occasion of crying out occurs when God tells Cain that “the voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground (Genesis 4:10).” It is likely that Cain believed no one saw his murder being performed but God tells him that Cain’s innocent blood had a voice that God heard crying out. The Hebrew people were suffering under Egyptian oppression and God heard their cries (Exodus 2:23-25). In later generations they turned away from God and were subjected to further oppression in the Promised Land. But when they cried out God raised up a deliverer for them time and time again (Judges 3:9, 15, 6:6, 10:10-12, etc.).
God demanded that His people be merciful to the poor, the widows, and orphans or else He would hear their outcry and render judgement (Exodus 22:22-27). Additionally, they were not to cheat their laborers of their wages or else God would respond accordingly (Deuteronomy 24:14-15). It is worth noting that James brings this concept into the New Testament saying that their defrauded wages cry out to the Lord of Hosts (James 5:4). As Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the crowds heaped praise on Him but the Pharisees demanded that He rebuke them. He replied, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out (Luke 19:38-40).”
Those who cry out to God must be seeking after Him. When Israel rejected God as their King and demanded an earthly ruler they were reminded that when they were dissatisfied with his demands God would not hear their complaints (1 Samuel 8:18-19). Those who take pleasure in sin will find that God will not hear them (Psalm 66:18). Isaiah taught much the same; it was not that God’s ear was unable to hear them but because of their attachment to sin He chose not to hear (Isaiah 59:1-2).
But for those that seek Him His ear is ever attentive to their cries (Proverbs 15:29. 1 Peter 3:12). The Psalmist depicts God as having His ears always leaning in for the cries of the righteous (Psalm 34:15). He is able to hear their cries and deliver them from the consuming fires.
So how do we know if God is attentive to our cries? The better question is whether our ears are attentive to His voice. The prayers of one who has turned His ear away from God’s word is abominable to Him (Proverbs 28:9). Jesus said that those who only hear His words but do not put them into practice are foolish. It is those who hear and do that will be richly blessed (Matthew 7:24-27). The hotline to heaven is a two-way communication line. So, how’s the reception on your end?
“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears (2 Samuel 22:7).”